NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – In his 14 seasons in the National Football League, Pittsburgh Steeler's quarterback Terry Bradshaw led his team to four Super Bowls in a six year period (1974-1979).
Now, the plain-spoken champion and current football analyst is speaking out on the current state of the NFL and how it has become a platform for protestors who feel America is a racist country.
Bradshaw said on FOX & Friends that he doesn't mind people protesting if they genuinely feel there is a problem, and they have the right to under the First Amendment. He said, however, he does not like protests while the national anthem is being played because he is "a man that loves the flag."
"I love the national anthem. I find it extremely disrespectful. But if in fact that's what they want to do, then they do it. There are repercussions. I think that you are going to pay for it some way or another."
"I do have a problem when people in this country don't respect our flag and national anthem. All you got to do is look around – this country's getting worse and worse and more and more immoral and we're rotting from within," Bradshaw said. "All great empires die from within."
He also lamented the fact that people have become so accustomed to being marginalized for speaking openly of their faith that they no longer can muster the courage to speak the name of Jesus Christ in public. Speaking it openly, he said, comes with consequences.
"We can't talk about Jesus. We can't mention that anymore. So we say 'I'm religious' - because if we say Jesus, you automatically are pigeon holed and kicked off the [sports analyst] desk."
"You can't talk about it," Bradshaw said. "The two vice presidential guys are going at it and they are both saying what? 'We're religious.' What does that mean – you're religious? Everybody is religious."
In discussing the protests, Bradshaw was specifically addressing the actions of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has repeatedly taken a knee during the national anthem. Others have joined the effort, either kneeling or raising a gloved fist, symbolizing black power.
Those social justice protests may be hurting the NFL. It may also be hurting the broadcasters who carry football games. According to Sports Business Daily, NBC's ratings have fallen 10 percent since last year. ESPN's have fallen 19 percent. And CBS's have fallen 15 percent.
Bradshaw's comments are at odds with those of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. At the beginning of the season, he encouraged the protests:
"I truly respect our players wanting to speak out and change the community. We don't live in a perfect society. We want them to use that voice. And they're moving from protests to progress and trying to make things happen in the communities. And I admire that about our players, (being) willing to do that."